With the temperature dropping, the cold and flu season has well and truly set in. I have had many poor patients turning up in the last few weeks already suffering with the dreaded common cold. And while a cold or two a year is very normal, please remember that a healthy immune system means you should not be suffering for more than a few days. Cold symptoms lingering for weeks on end is not normal! However, this doesn’t have to be part of your winter.
It is important to support your body and immune system to fight anything that may come your way. And the best place to start is in the kitchen! There are many simple food idea that you can incorporate into your daily diet to aid your immune health.
- GARLIC – Garlic is a natural anti-biotic with many immune boosting and anti-microbial properties. It also helps to alleviate mucous congestion, with a particular affinity for the lungs.
- GINGER – Ginger is a warming, circulatory stimulant and great anti-inflammatory. It can help to remove the inflammation in the respiratory tract that is responsible for generating mucous
- TURMERIC – Another herb that is very warming and possesses anti-inflammatory properties that can help with the aches and pains associated with the flu.
- VITAMIN C FOODS – vitamin C stimulates the immune system making you more resilient to infection. Increase foods such as citrus fruits, berries, papaya, kiwi fruit and capsicum.
- MANUKA HONEY – Manuka honey has been well researched for its anti-microbial and immune enhancing effects. It is also incredibly soothing and anti-inflammatory if you happen to have a sore throat.
- WATER (and other clear liquids) – ensuring you keep well hydrated will help to keep your lymphatic system moving as well as thinning any mucous that may build up. If you don’t feel like drinking water in the cooler months, opt for clear herbal teas, miso soup or broth.
- AVOID SUGAR – the consumption of sugar suppresses our immune activity and also feeds bacterial and therefore encourages their growth. Limit yourself to natural sugars from fruits, vegetables and grains etc, and avoid the processed and added stuff.
- AVOID DAIRY – this can be increase mucous production in many people. Even if you tolerate dairy normally, aim to avoid it while you are sick.
- FERMENTED FOODS – including fermented foods such as sauerkraut, miso, kombucha or kefir will increase your probiotic and healthy gut flora consumption, which in turn supports your gut based immunity.
- OILY FISH – such as sardines, salmon and trout are high in omega 3s which support the integrity of mucous membranes, including those of the respiratory system. Furthermore, sardines are rich in vitamin D which also helps to enhance immune function.
The other thing that is important if you do start to feel a little run down, is to rest and take time out. In this busy world that we live in, we can often feel pressured to power on and keep going. However, rest and time out will greatly support immune function, allowing you to recover faster and be more resilient to further infections.
Thanks for reading!
BAppSci (Naturopathy) UWS, Postgrad Dip Naturopathy
Hayley has been working as a naturopath in clinical practice for over 9 years. She works at Northern beaches health & fertility on Fridays from 7am until 2pm.